Category Archives: Nature

What’s Wrong with Playing Ostrich?


I’ve been practicing my ostrich impression for the last week or so — burying my head in the sand to avoid writing and other people.  It’s not that I’m unsociable,  it’s more like I needed time to recharge.

I don’t really get extroverts.  Supposedly they feel recharged when interacting with people.  How is that even possible?  Wait a minute!  So that’s where all my energy goes when I’m around other people.  It’s you extroverts that are sucking it all away.  So that means that introverts are actually powering the world of human endeavor.  We go off on our own, recharge our energy, and then run across an extrovert that takes it all away.  Where would the extroverts be without us?  I feel a story coming on.

Anyway, It’s been really nice here in Charlotte for the past week — good weather to recharge.  Also, the kind of weather that gets me thinking about springtime and the garden.

I mowed the lawn for the first time, and put out the citrus trees:

Lime Tree 2018

Went hiking on a greenway and saw the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles after they filled up on pizza:


And hung out in the yard:

Pear Tree

Marvelling over the daffodils:


And the first stalk of asparagus of the season:


Wow, I feel refreshed.  Maybe it’s time to peek my head back out of the sand and see what’s been going on.  Anyone want to buy a book?





Filed under Books, Citrus Trees, Gardening, Lime Trees, musings, Nature, Pictures

Ah Rats!


Credit Velizar Simeonovski/The Field Museum

I ran across an article a couple of months ago about a new species of rat discovered in the Solomon Islands.  This rat can weigh more than two pounds and grow up to a foot and a half in length.  Apparently, it lives in trees and eats coconuts.  Not only eats them, but cracks open coconuts with its teeth.

Wow, that’s a lot of rat!  I admit, the thought sent a shiver down my spine.  Not that I’m afraid of rats, but because I just don’t like the little rat bastards.  I have a dislike for all rodents, especially rodents that can hold their own against a dog or cat or gets between me and a girl.  Have you ever seen a possum?  Yeah, it’s a marsupial, but it looks like a nasty giant rat.  People around here eat them, and I say good riddance.

I guess my dislike for rodents comes from growing up in a house where the mouse population outnumbered the human residents.  My family lived in a rural area of eastern North Carolina that bordered the woods.  Every winter, the field mice moved in to stay warm, and it was my job to keep them from overrunning the place.  Even with a half-dozen mousetraps, I couldn’t keep up.

For the record, the best way to keep mice out of the house is to seal any openings where they can get in.  I found that putting steel wool in the holes keeps them out.

Maybe because of my time as the official family mouse catcher, I just can’t understand people that actually invite the little pests into their home.  Okay, gerbils are kinda cute, and guinea pigs seem pretty harmless.  Of course, then you have the sugar gliders and flying squirrels.  Before we’re done, there’ll be a whole rodent circus living in the New York sewers along with the alligators and anacondas.

I can almost understand these other “cute” rodents as pets, but who in their right mind would have a rat for a pet?  Can you imagine these coconut eating vermin being walked around the block on a leash? (Laugh if you want, but it’s coming.)  There’ll be special coconut rat food and everything.  Why not something more practical like a pot belly pig.  At least you can make bacon out of it in a crisis. (Oh, did somebody already think of that.)

I didn’t realize that people kept rats as pets until I was about twenty.  Of course, by that age, I had abandoned mouse catching for bigger game—girls.  Girls are a lot harder to catch (and you’re not allowed to use traps or likely to find them in your attic), but I did catch one around that time.  She was pretty, and funny, and made out with me in the back of my friend’s car.  It was a match made in heaven until she invited me back to her apartment to meet her friends.

Wouldn’t you know it, her best friend in the whole world was a rat.  Yes, an actual rat with beady eyes and a long scaly tail.  I remember sitting beside her on the couch, with that ugly rat sitting on her lap being petted like a prized Chihuahua.  She so much wanted us to be friends, while I had visions of a rat trap running through my head, and the beady-eyed bastard could probably smell the mouse blood on my soul.  Have you ever been cock-blocked by a rat?  It does wonders for the self-esteem.

Humans and rats have been in competition for years.  We can’t seem to wipe them out, and you know how I feel about making them pets.  It’s time to find another option.  I say let’s eat them.  The people in my part of the US will eat possum and squirrel.  People in South America eat guinea pigs too.  It wouldn’t have broken my heart if someone had eaten that damn girl-stealing rat bastard either.  I would have lit the fire and turned the spit.  If you ate one of these new giant tree rats would it taste like coconut?  Coconut-braised rat—Now there’s a rat trend I could get behind.

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Filed under Humor, musings, Nature, Pets, Philosophy

Sugar Mountain Day 2

When I was a young man (and quite a bit more antisocial than I am now) I thought it would be cool to be one of those hermits living on a mountain top.  You know, meditating and contemplating the meaning of the universe with no one around to bother you.  It sounded kinda cool, but I  always wondered if those hermit types were maybe a bit crazy.

Being an introvert, I like my alone time, but I’ve never spent an extended time away from other people–particularly my family.   After two days alone on a mountain,  I’m happy to report that I am not insane.  Okay, so I talk to myself (but not any more than normal), and I sing aloud (mostly to music), and I look forward the each meal as it was my last.   But I haven’t started talking to the furniture (although the fake tree in the corner has been watching me all day).  I figure this means I’m as sane as the next guy.

I spend a good part of the day writing.  I’m up to around 4000 words today. I don’t know if I’ll win NaNo, but I should reach my goal of finishing the draft by the end of the year.  The book’s working title is The Queen’s Man.  It’s one that I’ve been writing on and off for a couple of years between drafts of other novels.  It’s time to finish it and put it in my publishing queue.  I expect it’ll come out late 2018 time frame.

Here is a snippet from today where one of my protagonist is talking to his mentor:

Derrick looked up at his mentor.  He knew Karl had been tasked with his education as a warrior, but the kail warrior had become much more than a teacher to him.  Derrick felt closer to Karl than his own father, and sometimes wished Karl was his true father.  “Why couldn’t I have been born and kail?” he muttered.

“Why is a fish born a fish and not a bird?” Karl had risen from the bed and stood over Derrick.  “The fish doesn’t even know about the air above.  He breaths the water and is happy with it.”

“How do you know he’s happy?” Derrick retorted.  “I have seen fish jump out of the water as if they wished to fly.”  He looked up into Karl’s face.

“Maybe if you pray to the Trickster, he will turn your scales into wings so that you can fly.”

Derrick knew the story.  Karl had told it to him.  “Yes, but he wouldn’t change my gills into lungs, and I would suffocate instead.”

Karl nodded his head.  “But you can still learn to jump, my dear little fish, and knock the birds from the sky when they come to taunt you.”

“It is not the birds I want to pummel, but the other fish,” Derrick grumbled, but he realized that he felt better after talking to Karl.

“How can a fish who can jump so high not sail above the other fish in the pond?”  Karl sat next to Derrick on the bench and leaned in towards his young protégé.  “I doubt that Sir Roger could jump so high.”

Derrick let out a sigh and nodded his head.

Karl leaned his back against the wall and Derrick followed his example.

“Nor your father,” Karl said.

Derrick felt himself relax against wall at his back.


Oh yeah, and here is a picture from my balcony.




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Filed under musings, Nature, Writing

Writing on a Mountain

So I’m sitting up on Sugar Mountain looking for inspiration.  The wife and I came up for the weekend, and I stayed for the rest of the week to try to finish the draft of my latest novel.

We had a good time traipsing about over the weekend.  The highlight was hiking to the overlook at Linville Falls.  I say hiking, but it was only about a mile and a half round trip, which is about as much hiking as  I care to do.  Walking on flat sidewalks is fine, but climbing rock stairs is for the birds.  The view was worth it though.


Hopefully this picture will inspire me to work hard on my draft and maybe even salvage my NaNoWriMo attempt.  Fast writing just isn’t my thing, and I’m behind the eight ball for NaNo again this year.  Today I wrote just under 5000 words.  I’m usually lucky to break 500 in a day, so it was a good writing day.  Of course, I’m almost out of candy, so it’s not looking good for the rest of the week.


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Filed under NaNoWriMo, Nature, Travel, Writing

What Do You See?


I walked outside the other day to check on my garden and this is what I saw.   He was actually closer when I walked up on him, but I didn’t have my glasses on and it took me a bit to find the camera button on my phone.  Even then, I wasn’t sure I got him in the picture until I went inside to get my glasses.  Yep, getting old is a bitch.

Luckily, he preferred to munch on the honeysuckle growing on the boulders in my yard instead of my garden delights.

I showed this picture to my wife, and her reaction was: Ahh, how cute.  Yep, cute, just like the bunnies that hippty-hop through my yard and munch on my flowers.  She see’s cute bunnies, squirrels, and deer wondering through our yard as a wonderful display of nature’s creatures.  I just see a bunch of free-loading riffraff who sneak around (usually at night) and eat my plantings.

What do you see?





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Filed under Gardening, Nature